DANGEROUSLY SELF-DESTRUCTIVE

By James A. Wilson

A democratic republic depends on a robust two – or more – party system to flourish. The healthy rough and tumble of debate, competition, and victory for one alongside defeat for the other at the polls every election cycle is what creates and maintains a healthy body politic. Yet the unhinged rhetoric – and behavior – of one party threatens to create such a voter backlash against it we may find ourselves effectively a one-party culture following the 2020 general election.

The Democratic Party was the creation of Andrew Jackson and John Calhoun in the first third of the nineteenth century. Its twin purposes were to perpetuate slavery and suppress the power of banks; the latter became moot after Jackson left the White House but the party bent every effort toward preserving slavery through the Civil War and minimizing the impact of its destruction for a century thereafter. The Ku Klux Klan was created and populated by Democrats.

This is relevant history in light of Democratic claims to be the party of help for minorities. Since the sixties they have talked a good game but have never delivered on their promises. Although civil rights legislation required both parties – within their adversarial relationship – to bring it about, it took Donald Trump to bring prosperity to minority communities and move beyond token appointments of a judge here and a cabinet secretary there to make America the society we envisioned when we confessed all men created equal.

This party that spawned the KKK is now led by people like (black) presidential contender Cory Booker, who recently announced he wanted to punch President Trump in the face; he relents only because he does not – in his words – want to sink to Trump’s level. Yet Trump has threatened no one; his level is a good deal higher than Booker’s. Frontrunner (white) Joe Biden actually challenged the president to a fistfight; his challenge was ignored. These antics bring ridicule on leaders and trash the credibility of their party.

It is current standard operating procedure for Democratic candidates and congressional leaders to resort to absurd slanders – racist in chief, white nationalist and white supremacist in chief – instead of addressing issues. They threaten impeachment for enforcing immigration law on the one hand and refusing to cave to pressure from the now thoroughly discredited Russia conspiracy investigation on the other. On top of this is the evident chaos as rookie members of Congress announce harebrained plans to offer free healthcare to illegals while citizens struggle to pay for health insurance for their families. At the same time the neophytes spew anti-Semitic poison their leaders are powerless – or unwilling – to address. The party looks pathetic and voters are awakening to the pathos.

Other factors make the party look sinister. In the aftermath of the Mueller investigation the exposure of fraud and perjury against the FISA court by FBI officials – including James Comey – gains breadth and clarity daily. All the personalities under investigation are Democrat activists and operatives. The emerging level of corruption amounting to an attempted coup is unprecedented.

The most chilling revelation – recently – is found in the testimony of Dr. Robert Epstein, Senior Research Psychologist of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology before the Senate Judiciary Sub Committee on the Constitution. According to Epstein party supporters outside of government diverted two-point-six million votes to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election by manipulating social media; ironically this is roughly the same number Clinton claimed to exceed Trump’s total. Epstein went on to testify the actual number of diverted votes was likely larger – and would be much larger in 2020 as social media moguls become more intentional.

I said at the beginning the health of a democratic republic depends on a robust balance, debate, and ongoing contest between at least two parties commanding allegiance in a broad swath of the American public. The contest is an un-mandated but thoroughly necessary check-and-balance in a free society. In this season the Democratic Party is so compulsively binding itself in knots of incompetence, corruption, and lunacy it risks total disintegration of credibility beyond its shrinking base.

This is not a good thing for Republicans or the country. I hold as much disdain and mistrust for Republicans who do not live up to their vision of freedom for all – the vision on which they were founded in the 1850s to eliminate slavery and the corruption of rule by privilege – as I do for Democratic elites who are unfortunately living down to theirs in this season. Politics inherently appeals to those who love power more than progress, despite the presence of good men and women in both parties. If either party becomes simply irrelevant it gives free rein to the worst elements in the other.

My prayer is that the Democrats will recognize redemption when they see it and spend a season of rebuilding instead of seeking a season of revenge. My prayer is likewise that Republicans will see this not as a time of plunder but as a time to say, “There but for fortune…and the love of God for our nation…”

As of now one party is dangerously self-destructive and the other can be easily infected with the same disease if it takes coming success as a reward rather than an object lesson.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

ADDRESSING EL PASO, AND DAYTON FOR RECONCILIATION

by James A. WIlson

In the hurricane of vitriol engulfing the tragedies in El Paso, and Dayton I am (almost) at a loss for words when I see presidential candidates grabbing media attention for political gotchas with their denunciations of a real president as he seeks to bring healing and resolution. These people shriek about the so-called racist-in-chief – and attack the Constitution – instead of seeking to comfort the afflicted. If there is a way to preclude reconciliation in our culture, these people have found it.

Yet as God is my witness, we are better than this.

Reconciliation – as I outline in my first book, Living as Ambassadors of Relationships – is a three part process. It begins with expressing our view of reality through passion coupled with respect; direct speech is good but name-calling a conversation killer. The second step is listening to the other’s point of view with respectful appreciation of the passion if not the logic; again direct speech is appropriate but character assassination is a deal breaker. The last and most important step is permitting the great reconciler – His name is Jesus – to reframe the conversation so all win and no one is victimized. This requires a miracle; human ability is always inadequate..

When this process is engaged with integrity it becomes possible to address issues in terms of what we actually know. What then do we know?

We know gun controlled Norway leads the world in mass shootings on a per capita basis. We know our nationwide ban on assault weapons of the nineties – while it reduced the number of incidents involving fully automatic weapons – failed to reduce overall gun violence. We know Australia has had strict gun control for decades and yet –on a per capita basis – continues to have as many incidents as we do. We know there were as many or more El Paso-like incidents during the Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations as we see under this one; these include Orlando, Sandy Hook, and Aurora, Colorado. No one blamed Barack Obama for the incidents on his watch.

The solution requires a painful admission – it is not about who occupies the White House; it is about us.

We know Chicago posted fifty-five gun deaths the same weekend thirty-one died between El Paso and Dayton; most violence in Chicago is black-on-black, demonstrating hatred knows no racial boundaries. We likewise know most large death events are not caused by guns; the Oklahoma City bombing – during the Clinton Administration – killed one hundred sixty-eight and wounded nearly seven hundred; the weapon was made from fertilizer. And we know the most prolific killers are gangs and government, although they are not listed as mass murderers when we take up issues like El Paso; we dare not forget the WACO massacre under Bill Clinton when seventy-six cultists were slaughtered when government agents set their compound afire while they and their children were inside. Neither should we forget cartel killers who terrorize Mexico and traffick across our borders.

To seriously address the violence we have to seriously sacrifice some sacred cows. While deep background checks seem no-brainers considering how many gun killers bought legally, so-called red flag laws pose a serious constitutional threat inasmuch as they seek to ban guns from people who have done nothing unlawful but who are deemed – by whom (?) – to be high risk for offense. Serious or feel-good?

We need to think outside the box across the board. That means revisiting the many studies linking violent crime to family disintegration, violent ideologies, and – brace yourselves – violent video games, hard core pornography, certain kinds of music, and in-your-face movies and television. Whether to ban or restrict these things is for discussion, and other factors must be weighed, but pretending the jury is not in on these factors of causation is burying our heads in the sand.

There is a catch. If all parties to a dispute are not committed – equally – to reconciliation there will be no reconciliation. For example – to take up a current event that has no connection to these massacres – once top officials of the FBI who have been fully exposed for their attempted coup and terminated from their positions humble themselves I would favor that mercy which enables reconciliation. As things stand Andrew McCabe and Peter Strozk are suing to regain their power while James Comey and John Brennan continue to pontificate and fulminate. Only their prosecution can achieve damage control on the one hand and deterrence on the other.

There is a spiritual dimension to the dilemma that cannot be avoided or denied. For openers we need to re-commit – at home, in church, and in school, public or private – to teaching the traditional values that made us a great nation. (I am not promoting religious indoctrination on taxpayer funds, just American History.) Even more important is recognition by a critical mass that we began this dysfunctional road trip with that first betrayal back in the Garden of Eden; we traveled it one knife-in-the-back at a time. (Whether we believe or not there is no other adequate analysis of how we got here.) That said, the same critical mass needs to re-commit to re-focus on the God who alone can reverse our course and bring us home; He assures us He has already done as much and is only waiting on us to cash the check. Now would be an excellent time for that.

The God who creates all and redeems all is first of all a maker of reconciliation. Let all parties engage with one another in the process I outlined above and let us see what He might make of us yet.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

THE GENIUS OF A GENERATION

by James A. Wilson

We Baby Boomers are rapidly aging, preparing to pass out of American history. What is our legacy?

We have our accomplishments. In addition to helming the communications and information revolution – standing on the shoulders of parents and grandparents – we led the way to incredible medical breakthroughs from surgical techniques to dozens of available medical therapies using adult stem cells rather than the controversial – and so far useless – embryonic cells. We’ve overseen scientific breakthroughs from confirming God in Creation to the next generation of spaceflight. Our cultural achievements are greater than these.

We achieved racial reconciliation – despite the work still awaiting – through the crucible of war in Southeast Asia. The Jesus People – Boomers nearly all – gave us the short-term missions movement, with its emphasis on trusting local leaders to harvest where we may have planted and surely assisted. They gave us the modern addictions recovery movement and the re-animation of vigorous prophetic and healing – all kinds – ministries in our modern and mega skeptical world. We introduced a culture of people rather than product centrality into business and even political life, a grassroots democratic approach to society and culture. We have launched the beginning of resurrection in the arts that only God can actually author.

We also have much to repent, and that repentance remains in its cultural infancy. Although we invented neither the sexual revolution nor the abortion holocaust, we certainly embraced both with unprecedented zeal. We took drug and alcohol abuse to unprecedented levels and fled from commitments like marriage as an unbreakable and normative union between one man and one woman.

Yet our legacy – I believe – is not so much this or that thing we have done or failed to do. It is rather an approach to who we are and are to become.

In my novel, Generation, the teenaged protagonists come to see early on they cannot rely on what they have been taught or led to expect about the world they were born to inherit. Between the Civil Rights Revolution, war in Vietnam, and the cultural upheavals from social mores to Lyndon Johnson’s so-called Great Society there is no status quo to maintain – despite parental efforts to behave and expect behavior as though there was. These young people are as rebellious and self-centered as any, but they make a decision to seek what they call “the really real” – whatever that may be. Their quest takes them from the beaches of Malibu to the underground sub-culture of Hollywood, and from voting rights marches in Alabama to riots in Los Angeles over one rocket propelled summer. They deal with abusive parents, school administrators, the KKK, and a sudden death with a maturity too young to be achieved in anything but the crucible their lives have become. They find themselves addressing questions of faith – in disparate ways and directions – not because they possess or even desire it, but because of what one famous ancient described as a God-shaped hole in every human heart.

In the course of events they learn to value their quest for its own sake – letting the chips fall where they may – as heroes from the Knights of the Round Table to the Hobbits of Lord of the Rings have always done. Jesus and the disciples managed to turn a three-day walk from Galilee to Jerusalem into a three-year trek because they found such necessary value and significance in the journey itself.

These young people navigating a world turned upside down believe themselves capable of discovering truth and committed to questing for it. They find out – the hard way – that a real quest is equal parts self-funded and unexpectedly gift driven. They acquire the courage to take the risks that accompany the reality they are willing to seek at all costs at the same time they discover real compassion in themselves for those who do not necessarily merit it.

Perhaps most importantly, they learn through doing what they already know by instinct. There is intrinsic, implicit, and incalculable value in having our brothers’ backs. Those brothers are anyone needing a hand up. Such living saves lives; it also makes lives worth living.

As a writer and journey maker myself I would be trapped in my rose colored glasses if I imagine we all did what Jon and Lonnie, Travis and Blume, Leslie and Rindi and Suze and Calvin do in Generation. Yet an awful lot of us navigated the tumultuous sixties and seventies in just this way. This is our legacy and Generation is an attempt to begin to tell our story. Generation seeks to celebrate what we achieved and pass it on to what I call the Genesis Generation. I believe their destiny surpasses ours and their time is now.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

THE MOVIE VERSUS THE BOOK: WILL THE REAL FORREST GUMP PLEASE STAND

By James A. Wilson

The exception proves the rule. I bristle at people who take the artistic creation of another and rework it to suit their vision, claiming they have improved the original. Films like Noah, depicting the quintessential man of God worshipping the very serpent who set in motion the events leading to the flood, or The DaVinci Code – book and movie – in which the celibate Jesus of all accepted accounts is portrayed as married and just awaiting discovery by the scholars of esoteria are examples. I just have this thing about doing whatever you like with your own creation but respecting the creations of others. Yet Forrest Gump, one of my favorite movies, turns out to be a radical departure from the book on which it is based. Praise the Lord!

Gump is the exception proving the rule because of the evident approval of author Winston Groom for the recasting offered up by the film’s producers. Groom apparently cooperated fully with the production – he receives writing credit parallel with the screenplay’s author – and cut a deal for production of the Gump sequel. This work is the exception that proves the rule because it steals nothing. Yet the differences cry out.

The written Gump is a self-described idiot, and seriously self-conscious of the designation. He is also – it turns out – a so-called idiot savant, a person of apparently low intelligence who unaccountably excels in some disciplines at genius level. Forrest becomes a harmonica virtuoso overnight, has a gift for mathematics, and the hand-eye coordination of a world class ping pong player. The cinematic Gump is labeled-by-others mentally impaired but learns from his mother that “stupid is as stupid does,” and pursues life because it is there. He does excel at ping pong, but only because he obeys the instruction to keep his eye on the ball and lacks the intelligence to be distracted by extraneous noise and movement. He is a person of simple faith and intense faithfulness whose life intersects one miracle after another, from the falling away of his leg braces to the deluge of shrimp he receives when he goes out one more time, heedless of the storm warnings driving other shrimpers to shore because he believes God told him to set sail.

Gump of the book is a hapless individual stumbling from one adventure to another without anyone knowing why; his story is devoid of the quality of miracle so prevalent in the film.

There is likewise neither rhyme nor reason behind the choices characters make in the book; their motivations are clear in the film. Jenny has no known reason for her promiscuity and drug use in the book; he movie Jenny is an abused child who ultimately responds to Forrest’s faithful love, but in the book simply grows tired of her lifestyle. Lieutenant Dan is devastated because he believed in destiny and feels without purpose after his injury; he too responds to Forrest’s faith and faithfulness – in the film. In the book he is just one more person drowning until rescued – for no apparent reason – in his picaresque existence. Forrest himself is a creature of circumstance who cannot even comprehend being faithful to Jenny in the book, in contrast to the movie. This is important because the film characters grow beyond their circumstances while nobody ever changes in the book, with the possible exception of Curtis – a bully who makes no appearance in the movie.

The faithfulness central to the person of Forrest offers the hope in the film; its absence in the book leaves everyone awash in a sea of happenstance.

Simplicity is not remotely like stupidity. The book Forrest is stupid when he allows the Jenny he has loved and pursued all his life to get away following anonymous sex in an alley. The film Forrest is simple: when lives need saving he does his best, when Lt. Dan asks if he found Jesus he answers he had not known Jesus was lost – they’ve always been in touch – from obeying the call to enter the hurricane being business as usual to whenever Jenny needs him he is there. It is as different as night and day.

Will the real Forrest please stand? I choose to believe he is the man of the movie rather than the victim of circumstance the book portrays. The movie man understands that life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get; the book man could echo that sentiment. But the movie man understands the chocolates are a gift from a giver; that makes all the difference.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

LIFE IS EVERYBODY’S BUSINESS AND CERTAINLY MINE

By James A. Wilson

Nothing much has changed. In 2011 I was invited to testify before the California Commission on the Status of Women. Citing the trauma most women endure post-abortion, I said if the state wanted to address suffering women they could stop funding thirty thousand abortions yearly.

I remember the audible gasp from the audience, and the hissed, “This time he’s gone too far.” I remember with equal clarity the chairperson’s effort to encourage dialogue over diatribe; she asked if I was willing to hear views other than my own. I answered I had been listening to such views for more than thirty years and was happy to keep listening, so long as I received – for a change – a chance to be heard as well. The Planned Parenthood representative agreed to dialogue with me, yet when I approached her on a break to seek an appointment she huffed, “I’ve got better things to do than talk to you,” and stalked out of the room. It is not about exchange of ideas; it is about who is entitled to speak and who is not.

More recently presidential candidate Senator Kristin Gillibrand excoriated a Texas city council for banning abortions in their city. Her perspective was clear – men have no business making decisions concerning a woman’s body. Her rivals for her party’s nomination agree with her and are – frankly – just as aggressive over whether women may legitimately weigh in on what they consider not open to discussion. The common agenda is not to win an argument but to be abusive enough to stifle speech they find disagreeable.

I’ve got some news for Kristin and her friends.

I was an unwanted child. Had my mother had the option in the 1940s to cancel my life I most certainly would not have gotten past the abortionist’s knife. I am glad I was born and grew to manhood. I say the issue of disposing of unwanted children by abortion is very much my business. I am still willing to listen, but I will not be inhibited by those who – because they have no argument – resort to bullying others into silence. I exercise my right to speak as an American, a citizen of God’s Kingdom, and a survivor of my mother’s revulsion at my presence in her womb.

By the way, it is not all about abortion and infanticide, this effort to stifle speech. Tim Cook, the openly gay CEO of Apple, made a very fine address to the graduates of Stanford University about accepting responsibility for unintended consequences if they would accept credit for unforeseeable successes. He exhorted them to see themselves as part of a story they would not get to finish, not unlike the author of the Letter to the Hebrews commending the prophets and martyrs who anticipated the coming of Christ and paved the road for Him, knowing they would not see Him in this life and choosing to believe their sacrifice gave them abundance where it counts. He had me – despite my disagreement with his political agenda – until his deeper agenda came out.

The unintended consequences are all about enabling what he calls hate speech and fake news. Coming from a gay activist this is obvious code for what spells out later. He does not want to win a debate over the LGBTQ program; he wants to stop conversation in its tracks. Freedom of speech and (Christian) faith are just too dangerous in his world to be tolerated.

The suppression does not end with gender and sexuality.

Actor John Cusack has joined with congressional members Ocasio-Cortez, Omar and Tlaib to make blatantly anti-Semitic/anti-Israeli statements. Cusack re-tweeted a drawing of a Star-of-David decorated sleeve from which descends a hand busy crushing a crowd with the caption, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

The laugh is Cusack hoisted himself on his own petard. Although he has received criticism for his blatant anti-Semitism, it is open season on Jews all over the world from UN condemnation of Israel after Palestinians bombard Israeli civilians with seven hundred rockets in one day to the still unaddressed hatred of Jews emanating from Democratic members of Congress such as Ilhan Omar. By Cusack’s twisted logic the indisputable conclusion is Jews rule nobody, since everybody feels free to condemn them.

The abortion lobby, on the other hand, is beyond criticism for most pundits and kingmakers; departures from this faux orthodoxy are punished with labels from anti-choice to anti-women. The alternative sexuality lobby is equally protected; top Australian footballer Israel Folau is vilified all over his country for quoting a Bible verse that includes gays as sinners among many others – Go Fund Me even took down the page supporting his legal defense and withheld donations given for it – and singer Taylor Swift is in trouble not for criticizing same-sex-attracted but for supporting them with too-little-too-late.

Good news is suppression is not working.

Israel enjoys a resurgence of popular support in the Trump era. Comfort with the gay agenda has slipped to minority status even amongst millennials and Folau has received two million dollars for his defense from other sources; even the Australian Prime Minister has spoken against the persecution he endures. Sixty per cent of Americans now want to ban all or most abortions. The bullies have overplayed their hand.

Of course the reality is criticism – in isolation – achieves nothing, much less condemnation. What is needed is behavior expressing accountability plus blessing. That of course requires repentance from all of us, but it’s worth it. The last time the world saw this phenomenon the Iron Curtain fell.

But it begins with this: Life is everybody’s business.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

INDEPENDENCE DAY AND ITS DECLARATION

by James A. Wilson

Independence Day comes in the midst of unbelievable polarization in these United States. Charlottsville, Virginia, home to Thomas Jefferson, has decided to make no official recognition of his birthday. The author of the Declaration of Independence was our first secretary of state, second vice president, and third president. He doubled our expanse through the Louisiana Purchase and led us through our first post-revolutionary war. But…he was a slave owner.

Slavery and slave holding is indefensible and inexcusable;

Make no mistake. But how sad that – against his unique accomplishments – this is all that matters to the arbiters of hindsight. Truly those who can do and those who cannot criticize.

Major media outlets describe the observance of our nation’s birth as obnoxious. Actually, it is the consuming hatred for our president behind such sentiments that is obnoxious. And sad.

Nike has pulled an edition of its shoes off the market because an angry former NFL quarterback objects to the depiction of Betsy Ross’ flag on the shoes; people owned slaves at that time. Indeed they did, and it was a horror, but it was people like Ross who loved God and their country enough to eradicate slavery as rapidly as circumstances permitted. Politically correct types like the current complainers made every effort to perpetuate slavery at the time – see Democrat Party, origins and history – while the spiritual ancestors of today’s conservatives brought it down. I abhor the polarization and hatred on both sides of today, but I honor Arizona’s governor for taking a stand and pulling state subsidies from Nike.

Is this kind of self-consumption what our nation is about from her beginnings? I don’t think so.

The Declaration of Independence begins with a statement of respect for the opinions of mankind – that’s right, respect even for those who may disagree. It moves forward with this startling and unprecedented statement, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” There is more, but the business end is in the above. What did we – and I do mean we – actually say?

We said – for openers – that what we are about to commit our lives toward is self-evident truth. It is not subject to argumentation, mathematical formula, social science studies, or even a poll. What comes next – we said – is so patently obvious any human being should be able to see and embrace it. The revolutionaries staked their lives on that reality and not one of them emerged from the war without having lost lives, family, freedom or property.

It is our imperfect effort to embody this truth that we celebrate each July Fourth. We’ve made a lot of progress in two and a half centuries; I am deeply proud to be an American. There is racism here, but no more than anywhere else and a good deal less than in most nations. We wrote a constitution counting each black person as three fifths of one not to dehumanize but to facilitate the end of slavery by making it difficult for slave states to dominate government. We fought the bloodiest war of our history to accomplish that feat and thousands – black and white – gave their lives in the struggle for civil rights for all. The fight has been hard won but today we enter a campaign filled with people of multiple colors and races, men and women; we elected a black man in 2008 and 12. I cannot say I support any of their positions, but I cherish a nation in which all are welcome to serve.

This truth includes but is not limited to three propositions: All of us are created equal in our being, equally entitled to whatever benefits emerge from our creation and equally authorized to live out that creation. All of us enjoy unlimited access to life itself, the liberty without which life is not worth much, and the pursuit – not necessarily the achievement – of happiness. All legitimate governments are instituted for the sole purpose of guaranteeing those rights. Underlying these three is the clear assertion of a personal Creator, one who endows.

We have developed an economic and healthcare system – not to mention a science base that sent men to the moon and developed the internet – that are the envy of the world. The economy – as one example – was also hard fought. We went from faith unfettered capitalism is the best way for everyone to have that chance to pursue happiness to an era in which we learned it was still the best – but only when restricted by law to a leveled playing field. We have watched other nations suffer under socialism and communism and decided to perfect what we have rather than imitate them.

We have ground still to gain, but is the cup half empty or more than three quarters full? Can we look squarely at the reality some of our heroes are flawed and less than heroic human beings who nonetheless birthed the greatest nation on earth? Can we celebrate the reality that this intentional Creator achieved America partnering with such flawed human beings and He can achieve even greater things with us as we repent and turn our hearts toward Him more and more?

The authors of our Declaration of Independence seem to believe this. Being content to judge our forebears trashes us more than it trashes them. Let us celebrate what we have and redouble our efforts to become all that Jefferson and his colleagues hoped and prayed for.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

HUMBLE TURTLES TRUMP HAUGHTY GIRAFFES

By James A. Wilson

I received a Facebook forward from a friend of an aphorism from Bishop TD Jakes. It reads, “When you are a giraffe and you receive criticism from turtles, they are reporting the view from the level they are on.” I admire Bishop Jakes, but this is easily interpreted as, “When lowly servants have a problem with lofty leaders – and say so – they reveal themselves as unappreciative of their betters.” The Church of Jesus Christ spends an awful lot of time and attention making that crippling and downright damning mistake.

Reality is giraffes are distinguished by long necks that are easily lopped off, an absence of vocal chords rendering them wordless, and inability to eat leaves below treetop level; they never get down to the fruit. Turtles are among the most resilient animals God created. They plod along – the hare and the tortoise come to mind – and are so difficult to kill they live a long time after their very hearts are ripped from their bodies. They wait for the fruit to come to them, at the level they occupy. Native Americans of virtually every tribe are so impressed with the enduring qualities of the turtle they call North America Turtle Island and themselves the people of Turtle Island. My money is on the turtles.

I confess I grow wearier each day of hearing some pastor, prophet, bishop or apostle touted to be a third, fourth or even fifth generation holder of that office, and somehow credible because of that. There is no mention in scripture – not one – of pastoral or prophetic DNA passing down the generations. Great doctrinal battles were fought over this issue from colonial times to the present day and the conclusion – if three Great Awakenings and countless revivals teach anything – is that God has uncountable children but not a single grandchild, much less great grandchildren. If these leaders rate respect – and many do – it is because they speak the word-already-spoken by God, not because their ancestors spoke it.

The same absurdity rears its head when we speak of academic or even spiritual pedigree in the Church. Going back to the Old Testament we find prophetic voices like Isaiah and Joel descended from priestly families with the training to match. But we find equally authoritative voices emanating from the mouths of Amos and Elijah, two country boys without pedigree, called by the Lord as they did the mundane jobs of their earthly calling. It does not matter what or where we obtained our degree, or our credentialing. The only thing that matters is whether we speak the recognizable – by the Holy Spirit – Word of the Lord.

The Lord could care less about the size of a congregation; His work is done effectively in all sized and shaped – and denominationally backgrounded – gatherings. He makes clear He is impressed not by how many programs we run – or how many pews we fill – but by the wounds we dress and the feet we wash. He finds wounds dressed and feet bathed in congregations of thousands and dozens and single digit gatherings – and says as much when He washes the feet of His closest friends on the night before His death. And the corker is giraffes can scarcely see the ground, let alone reach down to bathe ground level feet; it takes folks of turtle height to bathe their brethren and love them into a new day.

Another great doctrinal battle was fought in the fifth century and apparently needs revisiting. Back then a leader named Pelagius began teaching human perfection – through human effort – was possible. He claimed Jesus’ perfect humanity as the proof, ignoring the saving dynamic of Cross and Resurrection as the only essential for righteousness and abundant life. To make matters worse, this teaching buttressed the already budding elitism in the Church, grounded of course in standards for perfection set by the already self-satisfied. Of course this teaching flies in the face of Jesus’ teaching about leadership by foot-washing and acceptable worship only in Spirit and in Truth. Paul elaborates on this reality when he writes, “Not many of you were wise by human standards…(nor) influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish…the weak…the lowly…and the despised…so that no one may boast…”

Pelagius’ teaching was condemned as heretical – nonsense – before the middle of that century. The practical outfall of elitism is the death of vision and creativity followed by social, cultural, and spiritual decline. Unfortunately Pelagius’ descendants are resurgent today; we see their faces every time we are told we cannot appreciate people who just live on a higher level than the rest of us.

No army in history has known the unbounded and unbroken success of the Israel Defense Force. Hounded and hunted by enemies exponentially larger and wealthier, they have never lost a war against enemies so bent on their destruction their first loss will be their last. The IDF has an officer corps and chain of command like any military organization; orders given on the battlefield are obeyed. But the lowliest private is expected to question strategies and orders outside the cauldron of battle because God’s chosen people know stripes and epaulets do not necessarily confer wisdom. IDF members are concerned with getting it right, not with the rank of who claims to have it right. This attitude spills over into the private sector and accounts for the high level of innovation and incredible success of the Israeli economy despite few resources and unrelenting pressure from a world of existential hatred for them.

From a human perspective giraffes are far more impressive than turtles. However – meaning no offense to Bishop Jakes – my money is still on the turtles.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

ISRAEL AND HER ENEMIES: LAW ABIDING VERSUS LAW DEFYING

By James A. Wilson

This author has just finished reading the landmark book of another. The book is Jerusalem, by Jay Sekulow, founder and leader of the American Center for Law and Justice, and counselor to President Donald Trump. In it Sekulow, an attorney who has argued multiple cases before the US Supreme Court, the International Court located at the Hague, Belgium, and the United Nations itself, makes an irrefutable case for the legitimacy of Israel as the single sovereign nation on the land known as Israel and Judea until the Romans re-named the region – not the nation – Palestine as a final insult to the nation that dared rebel in 70 AD.

Sekulow proves beyond reasonable doubt that Israel has been Israel over four millennia despite occupation by empires including modern Iraq and Iran, Rome, Muslim Arabs, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottoman Turks, and Great Britain. Occupation does not convey sovereignty and Israel has been sovereignly titled to the land without interruption. In 1948 she began the reclamation of her ancient land – a reclamation unique in world history after millennia of exile and dispossession. Jerusalem has been – for three thousand years – and will always be her capital. No other nation has ever demonstrated a credible claim; none ever will, in law or in justice.

But what about the Palestinians?

Many so-called Palestinians are needy and impoverished people, although a good number live in high rise apartments and drive late model Mercedes; I have witnessed this. Anyone should feel compassion for those languishing in refugee camps for decades. I personally feel even more compassion for the spiritual poverty of people fed nothing but indoctrinated hate all their lives; it is a cancer that devours them virtually from birth. However, this double-barrelled poverty is not the result of Israeli action; it is entirely the work Palestinian leaders who would rather see their people goaded to destroy Israel than live a decent life. And the Palestinian people as an identified national group? There never was such a people prior to 1967; they were Jordanians and Egyptians until Israel reclaimed her ancient lands in the war forced upon them by neighbors who had occupied Israeli lands since 1948.

Sekulow makes the elegant case for three criteria to determine landed nationality. The Latin principle of uti possidetis juris, “as you possess under law,” the principle of international law determining sovereignty for “newly created states formed out of territories that previously lacked independence or sovereignty,” is the first criterion. Modern Israel was created from parts of the defeated (in World War I) Ottoman Empire; those portions coincide with the ancient Kingdom of Israel. The British Empire was placed over the territory by League of Nations mandate and tasked with preparing the nations under the mandate for independence. Israel, in accordance with the 1917 Balfour Declaration, is the only nation mentioned in the mandatory documents. This is because no nation called Palestine has ever existed. These documents maintain the force of law even today.

According to the principle the borders of the new state must be the borders of the old colony or dependency. Israel thus reaches from Lebanon to Jordan and from the Jordan Rift Valley to Egypt. It includes – and always has, even when Israel was forced from her lands by aggression – the so-called West Bank, Gaza, Judea, Samaria, and all of Jerusalem.

Secondly, Israel holds a valid claim to all her lands according to the Mandate for (so-called) Palestine under which she was re-established by the United Nations in 1948; this is a document of international law as valid today as in 1948 and fully recognized by the UN despite its continuing efforts to undermine what it once-and-forever authorized; Israel’s membership in that body is proof. The same principle governs the existence of – for example – Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as they emerged from the same legislation a mere two years before Israel. No one questions their right to exist and name their own capital under these principles.

Thirdly, the lands called “occupied” by so many nations were taken in a defensive war against nations illegally occupying them since 1948. No principle of civilized nationhood argues that lands reclaimed from illegal occupation in a defensive war should later be returned to the aggressors. If it were otherwise there would be no disincentive to aggression – ever.

The reality?

Reality is Israel and her allies – especially the United States – have abided by international norms and laws at all times. Conflict has arisen – continued – only when groups ranging from Palestinian terrorist militias, the Arab League and Muslim Brotherhood, to the UN itself have sought to dislodge Israel from her national home by outright invasion and/or attempts to discredit her through libel and resolutions passed in defiance of UN principles and protocols. It is these haters of all things Israeli and Jewish – anti-Semitism is the proper name – who are the law defying. Sekulow’s case is airtight.

Let us all say, “Toda Raba,” Hebrew for “Thank you very much,” to Jay Sekulow for his achievement; I cannot recommend his book too highly. While we are shopping for his book – if we do not already own one – we might shop for a Bible and read it closely. I give thanks for Sekulow and his chiseled legal mind, but I give praise to God who created Israel, Jay Sekulow, and the rest of us, providing us abundant opportunity to cherish all He has done. To cherish is – in this case – to participate.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com